The regular season hasn't even started yet, but Jimmy Barnett's Briarwood Bucs have already faced some of the toughest teams in the state on the football field.
Briarwood Quarterback David Russell makes a pass during last week's scrimmage against Nathaniel Greene.
During an 11-day stretch recently, the Bucs played five different games - including four teams in a six days.
"All of this competitive play with the Class A, Class AA and Class AAA teams is getting prepared for our season opener against Edmund Burke Academy next Thursday night," Coach Barnett said. "We have played some of the toughest teams in these classifications and have done extremely well against different offenses and defenses that we will probably see later on in the regular season."
The scrimmage sessions started on Friday, Aug. 11, in Siloam against the Nathaniel Greene Patriots. The game marked the first time the Bucs donned full pads this year.
"We got hit for the first time and finally caught on fire," said Coach Barnett.
He credited quarterback David Russell with having a stellar game, connecting on several long pass plays, including a 55-yarder to David Joesbury. He also singled out Chase Wilson, Kyle Ewest, Cane Gilmore and Chase Walker for their play against Nat Greene.
Up next for the Bucs on Aug. 15 were games against the Trinity Crusaders and the John Milledge Academy Trojans in Milledgeville.
Coach Barnett used the game to test his players' stamina, lining them up in four consecutive 12-minute quarters. In the first quarter, Briarwood's first-string defense scored twice. The Bucs' second-string offense then took the field against Trinity's top offensive players.
"Trinity only scored seven points against our second team," Coach Barnett said. "I was real proud of those guys."
Briarwood then put its first-string defense on the field against John Milledge's first-team offense. JMA managed only seven points, Coach Barnett said.
"Our defense consistently shut John Milledge down," he said.
Briarwood's first-team offense tied the score, and had made it to JMA's 10-yard line on another drive.
"Unfortunately, time ran out, but I feel we would have scored on the next play," Coach Barnett said.
Coach Barnett said he came out of the scrimmage pleased with his team's effort.
"I felt like our throwing game is starting to click," he said. "A lot of kids played on both sides of the ball for us, so we built depth with our players also."
On Aug. 17, Nat Greene paid a visit to Briarwood in another scrimmage game.
"We have a good rapport with Nat Greene, and they are great, friendly competition," Coach Barnett said.
Coach Barnett said his team used the game to fine-tune their run defense.
"Since NGA is predominately a running team, where they keep the ball on the ground 90 percent of the time, we got a good lesson in trying to stop the run," he said. "That's what we really needed."
Tuesday, Briarwood traveled to Sparta to scrimmage Valwood School as part of the GISA's Kickoff Classic - a 22-team, four-day event.